BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonata No. 21 in C, Op. 53 "Waldstein". Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 "Appassionata". Piano Sonata No. 26 in E flat, Op. 81a "Les adieux"
Mari Kodama, pianist
PENTATONE SACD PTC 5186 024 TT: 60:49 (5 channel)

ROSSINI: Complete works for Piano, Volume 4
Paolo Giacometti, pianst
CHANNEL CLASSICS SACD CCS SA 18003 TT: 62:48 (5 channel) (HYBRID)

Two multi-channel SACD releases of solo piano music, both 5 channel. Japanese-born Mari Kodama has impressive credentials and has appeared with the Berlin Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, Hallé, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Russian National orchestras. This is her second recording; I haven't heard her first, Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Phiharmonia Orchestra conducted by Kent Negano, on ASV 8516. Three of the best-known of Beethoven's 32 sonatas are beautifully played on this new recording which was made in January 2003 in Holland. Kodama easily accommodates the manifold difficulties of the Appassionata's finale with clean articulation and consistent beautiful tone. I look forward to her forthcoming CD of Beethoven concertos, again with Nagano on the podium. These Beethoven sonatas are of infinitely more interest than the fourth volume of Rossini's piano works on Channel Classics. When Rossini retired from writing operas he spent his final yeas in Paris where he wrote numerous short piano pieces which he jokingly called Sins of Old Age. Twenty-four of these were called "An Album of Trifles," and of these 18 are included on this new CD. Although these surely are well played by Paolo Giacometti, the music is of a sameness and doesn't invite further hearings. Perhaps Giacometti realizes this and explains why the CD, which costs about $5 more than most SACDs, only contains 18 of the 24 pieces when there is room for more. Fine sound on both CDs, the Pentatone a bit more brilliant, both placing the piano in front with ambient hall sound from the other speakers.

R.E.B. (July 2003)